Bhutan faces floods and droughts

A VU civil engineering graduate has served his tiny nation of Bhutan by publishing research on the country’s water management while he obtains a world-class engineering degree.

Kelden Wangchuk recently published his study ‘A Critical Review of Water Resources and their Management in Bhutan’ in a high-impact Q2 journal, Hydrology, under the supervision of Dr Muhammad Atiq Tariq and Dr Nitin Muttil of VU’s College of Engineering and Science.

This is a rare accomplishment for a student at an undergraduate level, but a new trend being set at Victoria University.

Study examines Bhutan's water management

The study provides a comprehensive picture of water resources and priority areas for their future management in Bhutan, a water-rich country landlocked between India and China.

It showed the country has one of the highest per-capita water resource availability in the world (94,500 m3/capita/annum) yet uses only a tiny percentage of its total annual freshwater due to poor water resource management and peculiar terrain.

The country experiences frequent flash-flooding due to melting of its 700 glaciers and nearly 2700 glacial lakes that serve as massive freshwater storage systems.

Simultaneously, Bhutan faces a growing risk of localised droughts and water scarcity due to increasing urbanisation and climate change.

Kelden's study makes the following recommendations:

  • Bhutan’s water agencies must promote sustainable water-management practices to the public
  • investment is required for more treatment plants to reduce further water pollution
  • existing hydropower projects need to be analysed for harmful environmental and ecological impacts
  • large-scale, seismic-resistant reservoirs should be considered for wider valleys to augment dry periods and help meet future water needs.

Undergraduate-research trend led by Victoria University

This is the fourth research paper published by an undergraduate student in College of Engineering and Science and Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities (ISILC) under the supervision of Dr Atiq.

VU Associate Provost, Research Institutes and Centres, Professor Stephen Gray said Dr Atiq has set a positive trend at VU by volunteering to mentor high-achieving undergraduate students with their research toward a goal of quality publication.